Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddlestone, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings, Rene Russo, Ray Stevenson, Idris Elba, Jaimie Alexander, Clark Gregg, Jeremy Renner, Stan Lee
Synopsis: This film continues the run of Marvel Comics films that are building to the release of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers next year. Loosely based on Norse mythology, Thor, son of Odin, is banished from Asgard to Midgard (Earth), following his brash actions that threaten the realm now with war. He is stranded here until such time as he can be worthy to once again wield the power of his mighty hammer, Mjolnir.
A review by Film Nerd.
Anyone who may follow this blog would be well aware of the level of fandom I have for Marvel comics and the films adapted from them. As such, you may be prepared for an entirely biased review of this particular film, and you would be absolutely right. For me, this film was a nerdgasm waiting to happen, ever since the first sight of Mjolnir following the closing credits of Iron Man 2.
Thor as the headline character of his own film was always a prospect I approached with trepidation. When I was an avid comic reader, I only really followed him as a member of the Avengers, if anything. It is a very difficult character to get a grasp of, always speaking in Ye Olde English, and having an almost antiquated sense of nobility. The fact he is a god made him pretty cool, but I was never sure of his film potential. As such, Kenneth Branagh could not have been a better choice to bring him to the big screen. Being himself familiar with more antiquated drama such as Shakespeare, he was able to put together a film that provides entertainment without necessarily drifting into the area of farce. A wise choice was to discard the Old English, yet keeping the flavour with an English accent for the realm of Asgard. I had also read in interviews that Branagh recognised themes common between this story and Shakespeare, such as the corruption that comes with power and relationships between parent and child. It is when these themes are focussed on in the film that it is at its strongest.
The film is not without flaws. Despite Portman’s talent, the love story developed between her Jane and Hemsworth’s Thor does feel somewhat forced, as well as a little rushed. Okay, so the point is he learns maturity and compassion through his dealings with humans, but I feel this could have been achieved by introducing some mutual interest that would be allowed to simmer. The simple fact is with everything else going on, the romance itself does not need acting on. However, if this is my only quibble with the film, I admit it is a minor one, and something needs to be there to please that half of the crowd that is more interested in Hemsworth’s abs than they are the development of the Marvel Universe on film.
The performances are uniformly brilliant. Hemsworth does have real charisma, in addition to the bulk he gained to look the part. Following his breakthrough role on the international market with Star Trek, he is building a very strong CV. Portman as always is lovely,and errors in scripting cannot take away from her on-screen allure. Hopkins as Odin brings a gravitas to proceedings, and introduces a depth to the father-son relationship that may have been lacking in a lesser actor. Hiddlestone’s Loki also successfully walked the very fine line as the double-dealing half-brother,showing how the character could take so many in without appearing immediately slimy and self-interested. The remaining cast introduces some more fun and humour. Also keep eyes open for a few cameo appearances, the big hint being to stay after the credits once again.
As far as comic adaptations go, this is one of the better ones, and I was more than once stupidly grinning in the big action scenes. The romance detracts somewhat from the rest of the story, but otherwise this is a brilliant popcorn flick that should entertain most audiences.
4 stars out of 5